12/08/04 — Duplin borrows $1.5 million for courthouse repairs

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Duplin borrows $1.5 million for courthouse repairs

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 8, 2004 2:00 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County is borrowing up to $1.5 million to help pay for courthouse repairs that have been going on for the last year.

The county asked all of the banks to give their best rates, and Wachovia came up with a 2.85 interest rate. Duplin County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to borrow the money from Wachovia.

County Manager Fred Eldridge told the commissioners he had already budgeted an annual payment of $340,000 for this year. He said the county could pay off the loan in four years and save interest.

He said the repairs could cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million. He said he is not positive because all of the bids have not come in. The deadline is Thursday.

"They will hold a lien against the courthouse until it is paid," he said. He said the bank has given flexibility to use some of the money for upgrading the county's communications system.

Commissioners approved the loan unanimously. They have been under a mandate by the court system to do something problems with the original section of the building.

In September 2003, a leaky roof in the old part of the courthouse sent judges, lawyers and defendants to dryer places to hold court. Water was coming through the roof.

Commissioners held a special called meeting to hear about a letter Eldridge had received from Judge Russell Lanier. The letter emphasized that the county needed to take whatever action necessary to provide adequate space for court. The commissioners awarded a $10,500 contract to Boney & Associates to supervise the roof repairs.

Previous roof repairs had looked fine when they were done, but they had not been structurally sound.

The roof work ended up costing $150,000 by the time the contractor had replaced deteriorated metal.

That has already been paid.

Bids will be opened at 3 p.m. Thursday for the rest of the renovation work.

The work will involve tearing out asbestos, lead paint and other contaminated materials, restoring the courtrooms and updating the rest of building with heating and air conditioning, wall coverings and carpeting.

In July, the county hired Environmental Investigations for $23,000 to design and oversee the removal of asbestos, mold and lead paint. Asbestos had been found in the boiler room in the basement of the courthouse.

At that point, county officials had expected the rest of the restoration to take at least until next spring.

But now the county is looking at the second week in July before work starts on a 30-day contract for demolition work. Construction work would take until the fall of 2005, with completion expected in October.